Karunakaran unhappy with UDF response to issues

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, NOV. 27. The senior Congress leader, Mr K Karunakaran, has expressed his impatience at the UDF's belated responses to several contemporary issues, including the hooch tragedies and its failure to capitalise on the popular resentment against the Government and the CPI(M).

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Karunakaran demanded the resignation of the Chief Minister, Mr. E. K. Nayanar, as the symbiotic relations between the Government and the CPI(M) was solely responsible for the situation leading to the hooch tragedies even though the Director General of Police had warned sufficiently early about the emerging situation.

" It is high time something drastic was done against a Government and a ruling partner which functioned in a partisan manner. Organising satyagraha alone was not enough. The UDF should create a situation which would make it difficult for the Government to function'', Mr Karunakaran said. He, however, admitted that the UDF leaders, including himself, had failed to channelise the popular resentment. He also admitted that there was a lot of delay in the UDF decisions. But this was natural because issues were discussed threadbare before decisions were taken. But still, all UDF partners should be taken into confidence to launch a massive agitation, he added.

He said media reports had clearly established the Government- CPI(M) complicity in the flow of illicit liquor resulting in the liquor tragedy. Instead of taking strong preventive measures on the basis of the DGP's report cautioning against the proliferation of the illicit liquor trade, the Chief Minister chose to ignore it. And the DGP was rewarded for his warning by being shifted from his post, he said.

Mr Karunakaran severely criticised the way in which the prime accused in the hooch tragedy cases, Chandradas, alias Manichan, had been arrested and the kind of treatment given to him by the police. "No one would believe that Manichan was nabbed by the police. Rather he appears to have surrendered. Besides, he was not being treated like a criminal accused of the murder of more than 35 persons," the former Chief Minister said, pointing out the procedural lapses on the part of the Government.

He said that the Kerala Police should have sought the help of the Tamil Nadu Police to nab the accused. Or at least informed it about its moves. This is an integral part in the relations between two Governments, he said. Moreover, the aides of Manichan were roaming in the city. The special squad which is probing the case has not been able to lift a small finger against them, even as they continued with their activities, he added.

He alleged that the Government's contentious decisions on the Plus Two courses amounted to roasting the students alive. After virtually doing this, the Government was now talking about filing an appeal, in the higher court. The Government has the single- minded programme of implementing the CPI(M) decisions, even if verdicts of the court and the people were against them. "What has happened to the LDF Government, which appears to be keen on torturing the common man," he asked.

Replying to a question, Mr Karunakaran said it was difficult for him to forget the fact that the Communists had a record of suffocating an entire population for 70 years or more and that the Marxists in India were the true heirs of this tradition. The only difference was between the leadership of West Bengal and Kerala where the CPI(M) was in power. Bengal had the benefit of a sagacious leadership in Basu; therefore, the party could manage without any problems, he said.

When it was pointed out to him that the LDF had come out with flying colours in the second phase of the local bodies elections, Mr Karunakaran said there was no point in viewing the election results as a favourable verdict for the LDF. He stonewalled questions relating to the Congress(I)'s own position in leading a strong agitation. "There are several forms of agitations. In the past, whenever incidents like torture of a KSU worker occurred, the reaction used to be swift," he said. However, the UDF did not subscribe to the destructive style of functioning adopted by the CPI(M) when it was in the Opposition. Mr Karunakaran was also quick to clarify that he did not subscribe to the view that some of the UDF partners were putting obstacles to prevent a massive stir.

Asked for his reaction of the Kerala Congress(M)-BJP ties in the local bodies, Mr Karunakaran said Mr Mani himself had denied the charges. When a reporter asked him whether he would believe Mr Mani or the Kerala Congress(Jacob) leader, Mr T M Jacob (who had raised the charges), Mr Karunakaran quipped: "In the present circumstances, what Mr Mani says in correct".